Two French filmmakers, who accompanied New York firefighters into the World Trade Centre on 9/11, are threatening to sue the makers of 9/11 conspiracy web documentary Loose Change, claiming the movie infringes their copyright.
Loose Change, one of the top downloads on Google Video and YouTube, is an 81 minute long documentary, crammed with TV news footage and still photographs, which alleges that the 9/11 attacks were not the result of terrorism, but a series of cleverly executed events carried out by the Bush administration. It suggests that American Airlines Flight 77 could not have crashed into the Pentagon, that the actual collapses of WTC 1, 2 and 7 were triggered by explosions, and that United Airlines Flight 93 did not terminate in rural Pennsylvania, but landed safely at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
Loose Change began as a fictional story about 9/11 conspiracy theories, but when film maker Dylan Avery, who is in his early twenties, started researching, he became a believer himself. Edited on a $1,500 Compaq laptop, using Adobe Premiere and After Effects, the movie was released on DVD first, then unleashed on the web. Since then, more than two million people have downloaded the movie. Until recently, it was still available on a DVD for $17.95. Avery says that over 50,000 copies have been sold. A heavily edited version is still intended for cinema screening at the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in September 2006.
Although praised by 9/11 conspiracists, the documentary has also been widely criticised. Mark Roberts, who compiled the Loose Change Viewer Guide, says he counted 81 "errors of fact and instances of conjecture not supported by evidence, logical fallacies, uses of images that do not support the conclusions being drawn, and other flubs".
It is a copyright dispute that is currently causing problems for the Loose Change makers right now though.
In a certified letter sent to Dylan Avery, lawyers for Jules and Gedeon Naudet, makers of the renowned documentary 9/11 - The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition, say they have never endorsed nor sponsored the controversial views in the film. The brothers captured what is thought to be the only footage of the first plane hitting the North tower
"It is clear that your intent is not to spread a controversial message but rather to profit," the lawyers conclude. They have identified at least 14 videofragments, including interviews with firemen. The Naudet Brothers, backed by distributor Paramount, are demanding $150,000 for each act of willful infringement.
Although Avery has removed the movie from his site, and says "he fully cooperates with the Naudet brothers", he still encourages viewing the movie on Google Video.
But maybe not for long. Google says it only accepts video uploads from persons who hold all necessary rights to the uploaded material.
"Our policy is to respond to any notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)," the company says. "If we receive a notice or otherwise have reason to believe that content you submitted infringes another party's copyright, your account may be terminated and the video removed from Google Video."
A spokesman for Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz confirmed the firm was handling a case for the Naudets, but refused to comment further. ®